Expositor's Greek Testament
Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.Hebrews 2:1-4. From this proved superiority of the Son to the angels the writer deduces the warning that neglect of the salvation proclaimed by the Lord Himself and attested by God in miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost will incur heavier punishment than that which was inflicted upon those who neglected the word spoken by angels.
Hebrews 2:1. Διὰ τοῦτο: “on this account,” because God has now spoken not through prophets or angels, but through a Son. δεῖ … ἡμᾶς: “we must give more excessive heed”. “Alibi utitur verbo ὀφείλειν debere: hic δεῖ oportet. Illud dicit obligationem: hoc, urgens periculum”; Bengel, who also remarks on 1 Corinthians 11:10, ὀφείλει notat obligationem: δεῖ necessitatem; illud morale est, hoc quasi physicum; ut in vernaculâ, wir sollen und müssen”. Here then it is the logical necessity that is prominent. περισσοτέρως is to be joined not with δεῖ as in Vulg. (and Bengel), “abundantius oportet observare,” but with προσέχειν. The adverb occurs in Hebrews 13:19 and six times in 2 Cor.; the adj. frequently in N.T. περισσοτέρως [περιττοτέρως] occurs in Diod. Sic., xiii. 108, τὰ περ. εἰργασμένα; also in Athenaeus, v., p. 192 F. κλισμὸς περιτ. κεκόσμηται. The comparative is here used with reference to the greater attention due to the revelation than if it had been delivered by one of less position. Atto Vercell. suggestively, “Quare abundantius … Nonne et illa Dei sunt et ista?” His answer being that those who had been brought up to reverence the O.T. might be apt to despise the new revelation. προσέχειν never in N.T. and only once in LXX (Job 7:17) has the added τὸν νοῦν usual in classics. As προσέχειν is commonly used of bringing a ship to land, this sense may have suggested the παραῤῥυῶμεν. ἡμᾶς, including himself, but meaning to indicate all who in these last days had heard the revelation of Christ. τοῖς ἀκουσθεῖσιν: “the things heard,” the great salvation first preached by the Lord, Hebrews 2:3; cf. Acts 8:6; Acts 16:14. He means to disclose the significance of what they have already heard, rather than to bring forward new truth. μὴ ποτε παραῤῥυῶμεν: “lest haply we drift away”. μή ποτε, as Hoogeveen shows, occurs in N.T. as = ne quando and also as = ne forte; but in clauses expressing apprehension, as here, it can always be rendered “lest perchance”. [“In Hellenistic Greek μήποτε in a principal clause means ‘perhaps,’ in a dependent clause ‘if perchance,’ ‘if possibly,’ ” Blass, p. 212.] παραῤῥυῶμεν is 2nd aor. subj. pass. (with neuter meaning) of παραῤῥέω, I flow beside or past; as in Xen., Cyrop., iv. 52, πιεῖν ἀπὸ τοῦ παραῤῥέοντος ποταμοῦ. Hence, to slip aside; as in Soph., Philoct., 653, of an arrow slipping from the quiver; in Xen., Anab., iv. 4, of snow slipping off; Ælian, V. H., iii. 30, of a coarse story unseasonably slipping into a discreet conversation; and in medical writers, frequently of food slipping aside into the windpipe. Origen (Contra Celsum, 393) says the multitude need fixed holy days, ἵνα μὴ τέλεον παραῤῥυῇ, “that they may not quite drift away”. See also Proverbs 3:21, υἱὲ, μὴ παραῤῥυῇς, τήρησον δὲ ἐμὴν βουλήν.
For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;Hebrews 2:2. εἰ γὰρ ὁ διʼ ἀγγέλων λαληθεὶς λόγος.… An a fortiori argument derived from the notoriously inevitable character of the punishment which overtook those who disregarded the Law. “The word spoken through angels” is the Law, the characteristic and fundamental form under which the old revelation had been made. The belief that angels mediated the Law is found in Deuteronomy 33:2; Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19; Josephus, Ant., xv. 53. ἐγένετο βέβαιος: “proved steadfast,” inviolable, held good; as in Romans 4:16, of the promise εἰς τὸ εἶναι βέβαιαν τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν. The sanctions of the law were not a mere brutum fulmen. This appeared in the fact that πᾶσα παράβασις … “every transgression and disobedience”. παράβασις is transgression of a positive command: παρακοή is neglect to obey. Grotius renders παρακ. by “contumacia” which may be involved; but Böhme is right in his note “non commissa solum, sed omissa etiam”. The inflictions, whether on individuals, as Achan, or on the whole people, as in the wilderness-generation, were “a just recompense,” not an arbitrary, or excessive punishment. For μισθαποδοσία classical writers use μισθοδοσία.
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;Hebrews 2:3. πῶς ἡμεῖς.… “How shall we”—to whom God has spoken through the Son, Hebrews 1:2—“escape (ἔνδικον μισθ. prob. in final judgment, as in Hebrews 10:27) if we have neglected (the aorist ἀμελήσαντες suggesting that life is looked at as a whole) so great a salvation?”—the salvation which formed the main theme of the new revelation. The meaning of ἀμελήσαντες is best illustrated by Matthew 22:5, where it is used of those who disregarded, or treated with contempt, the invitation to the marriage-supper. The guilt and danger of so doing are in proportion to the greatness of the announcement, and this is no longer of law but of life, cf. 2 Corinthians 3. The word now spoken is vastly more glorious and more fully expressive of its Author than the Law, “Non erat tanta salus in V.T., quanta est in gratia quam Dei filius nobis attulit” (Atto Vercell:). The “greatness” of the salvation is involved in the greatness of Him who mediates it (Hebrews 1:4), of the method employed (Hebrews 2:10), of the results, many sons being brought to glory (Hebrews 2:10). But one relevant aspect of its greatness, the source and guaranteed truth of its proclamation is introduced by ἥτις, which here retains its proper qualitative sense and may be rendered “inasmuch as it …”. “Its object is to introduce the mention of a characteristic quality, which explains or emphasises the thing in question” (Vaughan). It was the trustworthiness of the new revelation of salvation which the Hebrews were beginning to question. The law had proved its validity by punishing transgressors but the majesty and certainty of the recent proclamation were doubtful. Therefore the writer insists that it is “very great,” and illustrates its trustworthiness by adducing these three feattures: (1) its original proclamation by the Lord, (2) its confirmation by those who heard Him, (3) its miraculous certification by God. [This is not contradicted by Bleek’s “Das τηλικ., tantae talisque salutis, verweist an sich wohl nicht auf den nachfolgenden relativen Satz,” nor by Weiss’ “Das ἥτις hängt weder sprachlich noch sachlich mit τηλικ. zusammen.”] ἀρχὴν λαβοῦσα λαλεῖσθαι, lit.: “having received a beginning to be spoken” = “having begun to be spoken,” or “which was first proclaimed”. ἀρχὴν λαβ., a common phrase in later Greek, see Stephanus and Wetstein. In Polybius of a war “taking its rise”. In Ælian, V. H., ii. 28. πόθεν τὴν ἀρχὴν ἔλαβεν ὅδε ὁ νόμος, ἐρῶ. It is used here to indicate with precision the origin of the proclamation of the revelation about which they are feeling uncertain. λαλεῖσθαι refers back to Hebrews 2:2 and also to Hebrews 1:1. διὰ to be connected with ἀρχὴν λαβ.; it is used instead of ὑπὸ because God is throughout viewed as the ultimate source of revelation. τοῦ Κυρίου, “the Lord” supreme over angels, and whose present exaltation reflects dignity and trustworthiness on the revelation He made while on earth. The salvation which they are tempted to neglect was at first proclaimed not by angels sent out to minister, not by servants or delegates who might possibly misapprehend the message, but by the Lord Himself, the Supreme. The source then is unquestionably pure. Has the stream been contaminated? God testifies to its purity. There is only one link between the Lord and you, they that heard Him delivered the message to you, and God by witnessing with them certifies its truth. The main verb is ἐβεβαιώθη which looks back to βέβαιος of Hebrews 2:2, and compares the inviolability of the one word or revelation with that of the other. We must not, he argues, neglect a gospel of whose veracity and importance we have assurance in this, that it was first proclaimed by the Lord Himself and that we have it on the authority of those who themselves heard Him, and who therefore were first-hand witnesses who had also made experimental verification of its validity. For ἀκουσάντων though without an object expressed, plainly means those who heard the Lord, cf. Luke 1:1. εἰς ἡμᾶς is rendered by Theophylact διεπορθμεύθη εἰς ἡμᾶς βεβαίως, it has been conveyed to us in a trustworthy manner. To their testimony was added the all-convincing witness borne by God, συνεπιμαρτυροῦντος τοῦ θεοῦ. The word is found in Aristotle, Philo and Polybius, xxvi. 9, 4, παρόντων δὲ τῶν Θεττάλων καὶ συνεπιμαρτυρούντων τοῖς Δαρδανίοις. Also in Clement, Ep., c. xxiii., συνεπιμαρτυρούσης τῆς γραφῆς; but only here in N.T., cf. 1 Peter 5:12; Romans 2:15; Romans 8:16; Romans 9:1. The sense is found in Mark 16:20, ἐκήρυξαν πανταχοῦ, τοῦ Κυρίου συνεργοῦντος καὶ τὸν λόγον βεβαιοῦντος διὰ τῶν ἐπακολουθούντων σημείων. This witness was borne σημείοις τε καὶ τέρασιν “by signs and wonders,” the two words referring to the same manifestations (τε καὶ closely uniting the words), which in one aspect were “signs” suggesting a Divine presence or a spirtual truth, and in another aspect “wonders” calculated to arrest attention. [The words are similarly conjoined in Polybius, Plutarch, Ælian, Philo and Josephus.] καὶ ποικίλαις δυνάμεσιν “and various miracles,” lit. powers, as in Matthew 11:21, καὶ οὐκ ἐποίησεν ἐκεῖ δυνάμεις πολλάς. Bleek thinks it is not the outward manifestations but the powers themselves that are here meant. This, he thinks, is suggested by the connexion of the word with πνεύματος ἁγίου μερισμοῖς, “distributions of the Holy Spirit”. The genitive is genitive objective, “distributions consisting of the Holy Spirit”. The remarkable character of the Charismata and the testimony they bore to a Divine presence and power are frequently alluded to in the N.T. and are enlarged upon in 1 Corinthians 12:14. Paul uses the same argument as this writer in Galatians 3:1-4. The article is wanting before πνεύματος in accordance with the usage noted by Vaughan, that it is generally omitted when the communication of the Spirit is spoken of, cf. Luke 2:25, John 7:39, with John 14:26, Acts 19:2 with 6. μερισμός only here and in a different sense in Hebrews 4:12; the verb is common. St. Paul uses it in connection with the distribution of spiritual gifts in Romans 12:3, 1 Corinthians 7:17. No one thought himself possessed of the fulness of the Spirit, only a μέρος. These distributions or apportionings, being of the Spirit of God, are necessarily made κατὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ θέλησιν “according to His [God’s] will”. In 1 Corinthians 12:11 the will is that of the Spirit. “Non omnibus omnia dabat Deus, sed quae et quantum et quibus vellet, Ephesians 4:7” (Grotius). [θέλησις only here in N.T., but ten times in LXX. Pollux calls it a “vulgarism” ἰδιωτικόν. On the substitution of nouns in -μα for nouns in -σις, see Jannaris’ Hist. Gram., p. 1024, and cf. 10:7, 9:36, 13:21, so that in the present passage the choice of the active form is deliberate.] The clause is added to enforce the writer’s contention that all the Charismata with which his readers were familiar were not mere fruits of excitement or in any way casual, but were the result of a Divine intention to bear witness to the truth of the gospel.
God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?
For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.Hebrews 2:5-18. Having sufficiently brought out the permanence and sovereignty of the Son by contrasting them with the fleeting personality and ministerial function of angels, the author now proceeds to bring the supremacy of the Son into direct relation to the Messianic administration of “the world to come,” the ideal condition of human affairs; and to explain why for the purposes of this administration it was needful and seemly that “the Lord” should for a season appear in a form “a little lower than the angels”. The world of men as it was destined to be [ἡ οἰκουμένη ἡ μέλλουσα] was a condition of things in which man was to be supreme, not subject to any kind of slavery or oppression. And if the Jew asked why, in order to bring this about, the appearance of the Son in so apparently inglorious a form was necessary; if he asked why suffering and death on His part were necessary, the answer is, that it was God’s purpose to bring, not angels, but many human sons to glory and that as there is but one path, and that a path of suffering, by which men can reach their destiny, it was becoming that their leader should act as pioneer in this path. His path to glory must be a path in which men can follow Him; because it is from the human level and as man that He wins to glory. More particularly His sufferings accomplish two objects: they produce in Him the sympathy which qualifies Him as High Priest, while His death breaks the power which kept them enslaved and in fear. [On this section Robertson Smith’s papers in the Expositor, 1881–2, should be consulted.]
Hebrews 2:5. Οὐ γὰρ ἀγγέλοις.… “For not to angels”. With γὰρ the writer proceeds to clinch the exhortation contained in Hebrews 2:1-4, by exhibiting the ground of it. Under the old Covenant angels had been God’s messengers, but this mode of mediation has passed away. The οἰκουμένη μέλλουσα is not subject to them. It is the Son as man who now rules and to whom attention must be given. ὑπέταξεν … “did He”—that is God—subject the world to come of which we are speaking, ἡ οἰκουμένη, not κόσμος, but the inhabited world. So used in Diod. Sic., i. 8 καθʼ ἅπασαν τ. οἰκουμένην, wherever there were men. From the O.T. point of view “the world to come” meant the world under Messianic rule, but in this Epistle the Messianic Kingdom is viewed as not yet fully realised. The world to come is therefore the eternal order of human affairs already introduced and rendering obsolete the temporary and symbolic dispensation. Calvin accurately defines it thus: “Non vocari orbem futurum duntaxat, qualem e resurrectione speramus, sed qui coepit ab exordio regni Christi. Complementum vero suum habebit in ultima redemptione.” It is the present world of men regenerated, death and all that is inimical to human progress abolished; a condition in which all things are subjected to man. The repudiation of angels as lords of the world to come implies the admission that the obsolescent dispensation had been subject to them. So in Deuteronomy 32:8 : ἔστησεν ὅρια ἐθνῶν κατὰ ἀριθμὸν ἀγγέλων θεοῦ, cf. Daniel 10:13-21 and Book of Jubilees, xv. 31. Cf. the pages in which Robertson Smith expands the remark that “to be subordinated” to the angelic dispensation is the same thing as to be “made under the law” (Expositor, 1881, p. 144 ff.). Hermas (Vis., iii. 4, 1) represents the Church as being built by six angels whom he describes as being the first created οἶς παρέδωκεν ὁ Κύριος πᾶσαν τὴν κτίσιν αὐτοῦ, αὔξειν καὶ οἰκοδομεῖν καὶ δεσπόζειν τῆς κτίσεως πάσης.
Hebrews 2:6. διεμαρτύρατο δὲ πού τις λέγων: “but some one in a certain place solemnly testifies, saying”. The indefinite formula of quotation is used not because doubt existed regarding the authorship of the psalm, nor because the writer was citing from memory, but rather as a rhetorical mode of suggesting that his readers knew the passage well enough. So Chrysostom: δεικνύντος ἐστίν, αὐτοὺς σφόδρα ἐμπείρους εἶναι τῶν γραφῶν. Philo frequently uses an indefinite form of quotation: this identical form in De Ebriet., 14 (Wendland, ii. 181) εἶπε γάρ πού τις. Cf. Longinus, De Sub., ix. 2 γέγραφά που. Here only in the Epistle is a quotation from Scripture referred to its human author. τί ἐστιν ἄνθρωπος.… The quotation is from Psalms 8 and extends to ποδῶν αὐτοῦ in Hebrews 2:8. It illustrates the greatness of man in three particulars.
1. ἠλάττωσας αὐτὸν βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους.
2. δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφάνωσας αὐτόν.
3. πάντα ὑπέταξας ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ.
And the author goes on to say that in Jesus the two former elements of man’s greatness are seen to be fulfilled (He is made a little lower than the angels, and He is crowned with glory and honour), while the third is guaranteed because Jesus has tasted death for every man and so subdued even it, the last enemy, and therefore all things, under his feet.
In Psalms 8 as in so many other poets and prose writers (see Pascal’s chapter on The Greatness and Littleness of Man, A. R. Wallace’s Man’s Place in the Universe and Fisk’s Destiny of Man), it is the dignity put upon man which fills the writer with astonishment. When Sophocles in the Antigone celebrates man’s greatness, πολλὰ τὰ δεινὰ κοὐδὲν ἀνθρώπου δεινότερον πέλει, he excepts death from subjection to man, Ἅιδα μόνον φεῦξιν οὐκ ἐπάξεται. Here the Hebrew poet excepts nothing. But only by Christ was he justified. Man’s real place is first won by Christ. μιμνήσκῃ αὐτοῦ “Thou art mindful of him” for good as in Hebrews 13:3. Man, the subject of satire and self-contempt, is the object of God’s thought. υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου = ἄνθρωπος of the first clause. In the Heb. אֱנוֹשׁ and בֶן־אָדַם. ἐπισκέπτῃ “visit,” generally as a friend (Matthew 25:36, Jam 1:27) frequently of physician visiting sick; in judgment, Jeremiah 5:9; Jeremiah 5:29. “The day of visitation,” ἡμέρα ἐπισκοπῆς, in good sense, Luke 19:44; for chastisement, Isaiah 10:3; cf. 1 Peter 2:12. In Jeremiah 15:15 we have the two words μνήσθητί μου καὶ ἐπίσκεψαί με.
But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?
Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:Hebrews 2:7. That God has been mindful of man and visited him is apparent in the three particulars now mentioned. βραχύ τι is “a little,” either in material, or in space, or in time. In 1 Samuel 14:29, ἐγευσάμην βραχύ τι τ. μέλιτος. In Isaiah 57:17, of time, διʼ ἁμαρτίαν βραχύ τι ἐλύπησα αὐτον. So in N.T., of aterial, John 6:7; of space, Acts 27:28; of time Acts 5:34. So in classics, v. Bleek. The original of the psalm points to the translation: “Thou didst make him little lower than the angels” [in the Heb. מֵאֱלֹהִים “than God”]. There seems no reason to depart from this meaning either in this verse or in Hebrews 2:9. So Alford and Westcott, but Davidson and Weiss and several others are of opinion that as the words are in Hebrews 2:9 applied to the Messiah, whose superiority has been so insisted upon, an allusion to His inferiority would be out of place; “and that the phrase should be used of degree in one place and time in another, when the point of the passage lies in the identity of the Son’s history with that of man, is an idea only puerile” (Davidson). But on any rendering the inferiority of Jesus to angels so far as dying goes is granted, and there is no reason why the sense of degree should not be kept in both clauses. δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ frequently conjoined, Revelation 21:26; 1 Timothy 1:17; Thucyd., iv. 86; Plut., Num., 51; Lucian Somn., 13.
Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.Hebrews 2:8. πάντα ὑπέταξας.… “Thou didst put all things under his feet.” In the psalm “all things” are defined as “all sheep and oxen, yea and the beasts of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passes through the paths of the sea”. But to our author the scope of the “all” has been enlarged by the event. His argument requires an absolutely universal subjection, so that everything obstructive of man’s “glory” may be subdued. And having seen this achieved by Christ, he is emboldened to give to “all” this fullest content. The one point he seeks to make good is that “in subjecting all things to him, he has left nothing, and therefore not the οἰκουμένη μέλλουσα, unsubjected to him”. The “world to come” is under human dominion and administration. The angels are left behind; there is no room for angelic government. But this very sovereignty of man is precisely that which we do not see visibly fulfilled: “for the present (νῦν) we do not yet see all things subjected to him”. True, says the author, but we do see Jesus who for the suffering of death (or that He might suffer death) has been made a little lower than angels, crowned with glory and honour that by God’s grace He might taste death for every man. In other words, we see the first two items of man’s supremacy, as given in the psalm, fulfilled, and the third guaranteed. Jesus was (1) made a little lower than angels; (2) was crowned with glory and honour; and (3) by dying for every man has removed that last obstacle, the fear of death which kept men in δουλεία and hindered them from supreme dominion over all things. The construction of the sentence is much debated. But it must be admitted that any construction which makes the coronation subsequent to the tasting death for every man, is unnatural; the ὅπως depends upon ἐστεφανωμένον. And the difficulty which has been felt in giving its natural sense to this clause has been introduced by supposing that δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφ. refers to the heavenly state of Jesus. On this understanding it is of course difficult to see how it could be said that Jesus was crowned in order to taste death. But as undoubtedly the first clause, ἠλαττουμένον βλέπομεν, refers to the earthly life of Jesus, it is natural to suppose that the second clause, which speaks of his being crowned, also refers to that life. The tenses are the same. But if so, what was the crowning here referred to? It was His recognition as Messiah, as the true Head and King of men. He was thus recognised by God at His baptism and at the Transfiguration [in connection with which the same words δόξῃ κ. τιμῇ are used, 2 Peter 1:16-18] as well as by His disciples at Caesarea Philippi. It was this crowning alone which enabled Him to die a representative death, the King or Head for His people; it was this which fitted Him to taste death for every man. He was made a little lower than the angels that He might suffer death; but He was crowned with glory and honour that this very death might bring all men to the glory of supremacy which was theirs when the fear of death was removed; see Hebrews 2:14-15. For a fuller exposition of this view of the verse, see Expository Times, April, 1896. χάριτι θεοῦ, “by God’s grace,” to men, not directly to Jesus. It is remarkable that Weiss, an expert in textual criticism, should adopt the reading χωρὶς θεοῦ “apart from God” finding in these words a reference to the cry on the cross “My God, My God, etc.”. The other meaning put upon the words, “except God,” needs no comment. The Nestorians used the reading to prove that Christ suffered apart from His Divinity (“divinitate tantisper deposita οὐ συνῆν ἡ θεότης”) but such a meaning can hardly be found in the words. ὑπὲρ πάντος, these are the emphatic words, bringing out the writer’s point that Christ’s victory and supremacy were not for Himself alone, but for men. [Chrysostom strikingly says: οὐχὶ τῶν πιστῶν μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ τῆς οἰκουμένης ἁπάσης· αὐτὸς μὲν γὰρ ὑπὲρ πάντων ἀπέθανεν· τί δὲ, εἰ μὴ πάντες ἐπίστευσαν; αὐτὸς τὸ ἑαυτοῦ πεπλήρωκε.] γεύσηται θανάτον “he might taste death,” i.e., actually experience death’s bitterness. The Greek commentators suppose the word is chosen to bring out the shortness of our Lord’s experience of death, μικρὸν ἐν αὐτῷ ποιήσας διάστημα. This seems incorrect. [The rule, sometimes laid down., that γεύεσθαι followed by an accusative means to partake freely, and by a genitive sparingly, cannot be universally applied. The ordinary distinction observed in the use of verbs of sense that they take the accusative of the nearer, the genitive of the remoter source of the sensation is much safer.] The expression γεύεσθαι θανάτου does not occur in the classics, although we find γευ. μόχθον in Soph., Trachin., 1103, where the Scholiast renders by ἐπειράθην, in Antig., 1005, where Jebb renders “proceeded to make trial of,” in Eurip., Hecuba, 375, with κακῶν and in Plato, Rep., 475 with πάντος μαθήματος.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.Hebrews 2:10-18. The humiliation of the Son justified; “a condensed and pregnant view of the theory of the whole work of Christ, which subsequent chapters develop, eludicate, and justify dialectically, in contrast or comparison with the O.T.… The ultimate source of all doubt whether the new dispensation is superior to the old is nothing else than want of clear insight into the work of Christ, and especially into the significance of His passion, which, to the Jews, from whom the Hebrew Christians of our Epistle were drawn, was the chief stumbling-block in Christianity. Here, therefore, the writer has at length got into the heart of his subject, and, leaving the contrast between Christ and the angels, urges the positive doctrine of the identification of Jesus with those that are his—his brethren, the Sons of God whom He sanctifies—as the best key to that connection between the passion and glorification of Christ which forms the cardinal point of N.T. revelation” (Robertson Smith). To this it may only be added that in order to prove man’s supremacy and justify Psalms 8, it was essential that the writer should show that Christ was man, identified with humanity.
In justification then (justification introduced by γὰρ) of the subjection of Jesus to the πάθημα θανάτου, the writer proceeds to say ἔπρεπεν αὐτῷ “it befitted Him”. The expression, says Carpzov, is “frequentissima Philoni phrasis”; but in Scripture, at least in this sense, it stands alone: cf. Jeremiah 10:7; Psalm 65:1. Aristotle (Nic. Eth., iv. 2–2: Burnet, p. 173) says that what is befitting is relative to the person, the circumstances and the object [τὸ πρέπον δὴ πρὸς αὐτὸν, καὶ ἐν ᾧ καὶ περὶ ὅ]. The object here in view, the “bringing many sons to glory,” needs no justification. As Tertullian (adv. Marcion, ii. 27) says: “nihil tam dignum Deo, quam salus hominis”. But that the means used by God to accomplish this end was not only fit to bring it about but was also πρέπον θεῷ, in other words, that Christ’s humiliation and death were in accordance with the Divine nature, is the point the writer wishes to make good. “The whole course of nature and grace must find its explanation in God, and not merely in an abstract Divine arbitrium, but in that which befits the Divine nature”. This matter of Christ’s suffering has not been isolated in God’s government but is of a piece with all He is and has done; it has not been handed over to chance, accident, or malevolent powers, but is part of the Divine rule and providence; it is not exceptional, unaccountable, arbitrary, but has its root and origin in the very nature of God. God acted freely in the matter, governed only by His own nature. “Man has not wholly lost the intuitive power by which the fitness of the Divine action, its correspondence to the idea standard of right which his conscience certifies and his reason approves, may be recognised” (Henson, Disc, and Law, p. 56). “It is worth noting that the chief value of Anselm’s view of the Atonement lies in the introduction into theology of the idea of what befits God—the idea, as he puts it, of God’s honour. Anselm fails, however, by thinking rather of what God’s honour must receive as its due than of what it is seemly for God in His grace to do, and thus his theory becomes shallow and inadequate” (Robertson Smith). The writer does not say ἔπρεπεν θεῷ but ἔπρεπεν αὐτῷ διʼ ὅν τὰ πάντα καὶ διʼ οὗ τὰ πάντα “Him on account of whom are all things and through whom are all things,” who is the reason and the cause of all existence; in whom, therefore, everything must find its reason and justification. “Denn wenn um seinetwillen das All ist, also Alles seinen Zwecken dienen muss, und durch ihn das All ist, also nichts ohne sein Zuthun zu Stande kommt, so muss man bei Allem, was geschieht, und somit auch bei dem Todesleiden fragen, wiefern es ihm angemessen ist” (Weiss). The purpose of God is expressed in the words: πολλοὺς υἱοὺς εἰς δόξαν ἀγαγόντα “in bringing many sons to glory”. The accusative ἀγαγ. (although referring to αὐτῷ) does not require us to construe it with ἀρχηγὸν. That is a possible but clumsy construction. The use of υἱοὺς implies that the Father is the subject and leads us to expect that the action of God will be mentioned. And this construction, in which the dative of the subject becomes an accusative when an infinitive follows, is not unknown, but is merely a species of attraction—the infinitive drawing the noun into the case appropriate. Cf. Acts 11:12; Acts 15:22; Luke 1:74. Examples from the classics in Matthiae, 535. The aorist participle has led the Vulgate to translate “qui multos filios in gloriam adduxerat,” needlessly, for “the aorist participle is sometimes used adverbially in reference to an action evidently in a general way coincident in time with the action of the verb, yet not identical with it. The choice of the aorist participle rather than the present in such cases is due to the fact that the action is thought of, not as in progress, but as a simple event or fact (Burton, M. and T., 149). πολλοὺς υἱοὺς “many” is not used with any reference to the population of the world, or to the proportion of the saved, but to the one Son already celebrated. It was God’s purpose not only to have one Son in glory, but to bring many to be partakers with Him. Hence the difficulty; hence the need of the suffering of Christ. But it is not merely πολλοὺς but πολλοὺς υἱοὺς suggesting the relationship dwelt upon in the succeeding verses. τὸν ἀρχηγὸν τ. σωτηρίας … the author [pioneer] of their salvation indicating that feature of Christ’s relation to the saved which determined His experience, “the Captain of their salvation”. R.V. has “author” following Vulg. Chrysostom has ἀρχηγὸν τουτέστι τὸν αἴτιον, and so Robertson Smith, “it is hardly necessary to put more meaning into the phrase than is contained in the parallel expression of Hebrews 5:9”. So Bleek, Kübel and von Soden. But the word is select, and why select, if not to bring out precisely this, that in the present case the cause is also the leader, “that the Son goes before the saved in the same path”. He is the strong swimmer who carries the rope ashore and so not only secures His own position but makes rescue for all who will follow. “The ἀρχηγός himself first takes part in that which he establishes” (Westcott). One of the chief points in the Epistle is that the Saviour is also ἀρχηγός. The word is commonly used of founders of tribes, rulers and commanders, persons who begin anything in become the source of anything, but or this Epistle (Hebrews 12:2) it has over and above the sense of “pioneer”. διὰ παθημάτων τελειῶσαι, “to perfect through sufferings”. τελειῶσαι is to make τέλειον, to bring a person or thing to the appropriate τέλος, to complete, perfect, consummate. In the Pentateuch it is regularly used to denote the consecration of the priests. In the N.T. this consecration is no formal setting apart to office, but a preparation involving ethical fitness. So that here the word directly denotes making perfect as leader of salvation, but indirectly and by implication making morally perfect. And this moral perfection, requisite in one who was to cleanse sinners (note σωτηρίας) and lead the way to glory, could only be proved and acquired through the sufferings involved in living as man, tempted and with death to face. Therefore διὰ παθημάτων, “a plurality of sufferings” not merely as in Hebrews 2:9 τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου. Cf. Hebrews 2:18. The glory indeed to which this captain of salvation leads is the glory of triumph over temptation and all that tends to terrify and enslave men.
For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,Hebrews 2:11. In the eleventh verse the writer proceeds to explain wherein consisted the fittingness (τὸ πρέπον) of perfecting the ἀρχηγόν through sufferings. It lies in the fact that He and those He leads are brothers. In Hebrews 2:11-13 it is shown that this is so, and in the succeeding verses the writer points out what is involved in this brotherhood. ὁ ἁγιάζων and οἱ ἁγιαζόμενοι are to be taken as present participles, so usually are, in the timeless substantive sense. ἁγιάζειν means (1) to set apart as belonging to God, in contradistinction to κοινός, belonging to every one. So in Genesis 2:3, of the seventh day, and in Exodus of the mountain, the tent, the altar. It is especially used of persons set apart to the priesthood or to any special work (Exodus 30:30; Jeremiah 1:5; John 10:36). Through the O.T. ceremonial the whole people were thus ἡγιασμένοι, set apart to God, admitted to His worship. In this Epistle the word is used with much of the O.T. idea cleaving to it, and is often rather equivalent to what we understand by “justify” than to “sanctify”. Cf. Hebrews 10:10. It signifies that which enables men to approach God. But (2) it is in N.T. more and more felt that it is only by purification of character men can be set apart for God, so that this higher meaning also attaches to the word. In the present verse ἁγιάζων introduces the priestly idea, enlarged upon in Hebrews 2:17. ἐξ ἑνὸς πάντες “all of one”. There is much to be said for Calvin’s interpretation “of one nature,” or Cappellus’ “of one common mass”. Certainly Bleek’s reason for rejecting such renderings—that ἐξ can only signify origin, is incorrect. “Greek often uses the prepositions of origin (ἐκ, ἀπό) when we prefer those of position or direction, as in ἐξ ἀπροσδοκήτου, on a sudden, ἐξ ἀφανοῦς, in a doubt, ἐκ μιᾶς χειρός, with one hand” (Verrall on Choeph., line 70). In N.T. ἐκ frequently expresses the party or class to which one belongs (John 3:31). And cf. 1 Corinthians 10:17. It might be urged from Hebrews 11:12 that this writer had he meant parentage would have said ἀφʼ ἑνός. Nevertheless the meaning seems to be “of one father”. The πολλοὺς υἱοὺς of Hebrews 2:10, and the διʼ ἣν αἰτίαν which follows make for this sense. And the argument of Hebrews 2:14, that because Christ was brother to men He therefore took flesh, proves that ἐξ ἑνὸς cannot mean “of one nature’. The fact that He and they are ἐξ ἑνὸς is the ground of His incarnation. He was Son and Brother before appearing on earth. The words then can only mean that the “many sons” who are to be brought to glory and the “Son” who leads them are of one parentage. The sonship in both cases looks to the same Father, and depends on Him and is subject to the same laws of obedience and development. But what Father is meant? Not Adam (Beza, Hofmann, etc.); Weiss argues strongly for Abraham, appealing to Hebrews 2:16 and other considerations; but the fact that in Hebrews 2:14 the incarnation is treated as a result of the brotherhood, seems to involve that we must understand that God is meant; that before the incarnation Christ recognised His brotherhood. “On this account,” because His parentage is the same, “He is not ashamed to call them brothers”. He might have been expected to shrink from those who had so belied their high origin, or at the best to move among them with the kindly superior professionalism of a surgeon who enters the ward of an hospital solely to heal, not to live there; but He claims men as his kin and on this bases His action (cf. Hebrews 11:16).
Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.Hebrews 2:12. In proof that He is not ashamed to take his place among men as a brother three passages are adduced from the O.T. in which this relationship is implied. These passages are so confidently assumed to be Messianic that they are quoted as spoken by Christ Himself, λέγων. The fact that words of Jesus spoken while He lived on earth are not quoted can scarcely be accepted as proof that the Gospels were not in existence when this Epistle was written, for even after the middle of the second century, the O.T. was still the “Scripture” of the Christian Church. The first quotation is from the twenty-second Psalm applied to Himself by our Lord on the cross. The LXX διηγήσομαι is altered to ἀπαγγελῶ. The significant words in the first clause are τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς μου; and the significance of the second clause consists in the representation of the Messiah as taking part in the worship of God in the congregation. This is one particular form in which His brotherhood manifests itself. For the passages cited not merely affirm the brotherhood, but also exhibit its reality in the participation by the Messiah of human conditions.
And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.Hebrews 2:13. The two quotations cited in the thirteenth verse are from Isaiah 8:17-18. There they are continuous, here they are separately introduced, each by the usual καὶ πάλιν, because they serve to bring out two distinct points. In the first, the Messiah utters his trust in God, and thereby illustrates His sonship and brotherhood with man. Like all men He is dependent on God. As Calvin says: “since He depends on the aid of God His condition has community with ours”. In the second part, ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ not only calls attention to Himself as closely associated with the παιδία; but also, as Weiss thinks, intimates His readiness to obey, as if “Here am I”. This obedience He shares with those whom God has committed to His care, God’s παιδία and His brothers. Cf. John 6:37; John 6:39; John 17:11.
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;Hebrews 2:14-16. This saving brotherhood involved incarnation and death. For, as it has ever been the common lot of the παιδία to live under the conditions imposed by flesh and blood, subject to inevitable dissolution and the shrinkings and weaknesses consequent, He also, this Son of God, Himself (καὶ αὐτὸς) shared with them in their identical nature, thus making Himself liable to death; His intention being that by dying He might render harmless him that used death as a terror, and thus deliver from slavery those who had suffered death to rule their life and lived in perpetual dread. κεκοινώνηκεν … μετέσχεν perf. and aor.; the one pointing to the common lot which the παιδία have always shared, αἵματος καὶ σαρκός, usually (but not always, Ephesians 6:12) inverted and denoting human nature in its weakness and liability to decay (Galatians 1:16, etc., and especially 1 Corinthians 15:50); the other, expressing the one act of Christ by which He became a sharer with men in this weak condition. He partook, but does not now partake. [Wetstein quotes from Polyaenus that Chabrias enjoined upon his soldiers when about to engage in battle to think of the enemy as ἀνθρώποις αἷμα καὶ σάρκα ἔχουσιν καὶ τῆς αὐτῆς φύσεως ἡμῖν κεκοινωνηκόσι.] This human nature Christ assumed παραπλησίως, which Chrysostom interprets, οὐ φαντασίᾳ οὐδὲ εἰκόνι ἀλλʼ ἀληθείᾳ. It means not merely “in like manner,” but “in absolutely the same manner”; as in Arrian vii. 1, 9, σὺ δὲ ἄνθρωπος ὢν, παραπλήσιος τοῖς ἄλλοις, Herod. 3:104, σχεδὸν παραπλησίως “almost identical”; see also Diod. Sic., ver. 45. τῶν αὐτῶν, i.e., blood and flesh. The purpose of the incarnation is expressed in the words ἵνα διὰ τοῦ f1θανάτου … ἦσαν δουλίας. He took flesh that He might die, and so destroy not death but him that had the power of death, and deliver, etc. The double object may be considered as one, the defeat of the devil involving the deliverance of those in bondage. The means He used to accomplish this object was His dying (διὰ τ. θανάτου). How the death of Christ had the result here ascribed to it, we are left to conjecture; for nowhere else in the Epistle is the deliverance of man by Christ’s death stated in analogous terms. We must first endeavour to understand the terms here employed. καταργήσῃ: “might render inoperative” (ἄεργον), “bring to nought”. Sometimes “destroy” or “put an end to” as in 1 Corinthians 15:26 ἔσχατος ἐχθρὸς καταργεῖται ὁ θάνατος. τὸν τὸ κράτος ἔχοντα τοῦ θανάτου, “him who has the power of death, that is, the devil,” τὸν διάβολον (διαβάλλω, I set asunder, put at variance) used by LXX to render שֳׂטָן in Job 1:2 and Zach. 3, etc.; Σατάν is used in 1 Kings 11. In N.T. both designations occur frequently. But the significance for our present passage lies in the description “him who has the power of death”. ἔχειν τὸ κράτος is classical, and κράτος with the genitive denotes the realm within which or over which the rule is exercised, as Herod., iii. 142, τῆς Σάμου τ. κράτος. In connection with this universal human experience of death he uses his malign influence, and the striking vision of Zechariah 3 shows us how he does so. He brings sins to remembrance, he appears as the accuser of the brethren, as the counsel for the prosecution. Thus he creates a fear of death, a fear which is one of the most marked features of O.T. experience. Both Schoettgen and Weber produce rabbinical sayings which illustrate the power of a legal religion to produce servility and fear, so that the natural expression of the Jew was, “In this life death will not suffer a man to be glad”. Life, in short, with sin unaccounted for, and with death viewed as the punishment of sin to look forward to, is a δουλεία unworthy of God’s sons. This indeed is expressly stated in Hebrews 2:15. The δουλεία which contradicts the idea of sonship and prevents men from entering upon their destiny of dominion over all things is occasioned by their fear of death (φόβῳ, the dative of cause) as that which implies rejection by God. [Among the races whose conscience was not educated by the law, views of death varied greatly. These will be found in Geddes’ Phaedo, pp. 217, 223; and cf. the opening paragraphs of the third Book of the Republic, as well as pp. 330 and 486 B. Aristotle with his usual straightforward frankness pronounces death φοβερώτατον. On the other hand, many believed τεθνάμεναι βέλτιον ἢ βίοτος; Hegesias was styled ὁ πεισιθάνατος, and by his persuasions and otherwise suicide became popular; and death was no longer reckoned an everlasting ill, but “portum potius paratum nobis et perfugium”. Wholly applicable to the present passage is Spinoza’s “homo liber de nihilo minus quam de morte cogitat”. Cf. Philo, Omn. sap. liber, who quotes Eurip., τίς ἐστι δοῦλος τοῦ θανεῖν ἄφροντις ὤν;] This then was the bondage which characterised the life (διὰ παντὸς τοῦ ζῆν) of those under the old dispensation; the bondage in which they were held (ἔνοχοι = ἐνεχόμενοι, “held” or “bound,” “subject to,” see Thayer, s.v.), and from which Christ delivered τούτους ὅσοι, not as if it were a restricted number who were delivered, but on the contrary to mark that the deliverance was coextensive with the bondage. ἀπαλλάξῃ, used especially of freeing from slavery [exx. from Philo in Carpzov, and cf. Isocrates οὗτος ἀπήλλαξεν αὐτοὺς τοῦ δέους τούτου. In the Phaedo frequently of soul emancipated from the body.] How the Son wrought this deliverance διὰ τοῦ θανάτου can now be answered; and it cannot be better answered than in the words of Robertson Smith: “To break this sway, Jesus takes upon Himself that mortal flesh and blood to whose infirmities the fear of death under the O.T. attaches. But while He passes through all the weakness of fleshly life, and, finally, through death itself, He, unlike all others, proves Himself not only exempt from the fear of death, but victorious over the accuser. To Him, who in His sinlessness experienced every weakness of mortality, without diminution of his unbroken strength of fellowship with God, death is not the dreaded sign of separation from God’s grace (cf. Hebrews 2:7), but a step in his divinely appointed career; not something inflicted on Him against His will, but a means whereby (διὰ with genitive) He consciously and designedly accomplishes His vocation as Saviour. For this victory of Jesus over the devil, or, which is the same thing, the fear of death, must be taken, like every other part of His work, in connection with the idea of His vocation as Head and Leader of His people.” In short, we see now what is meant by His tasting death “for every man,” and how this death guarantees the perfect dominion and glory depicted in Psalms 8. All the humiliation and death are justified by the necessities of the case, he concludes, “For, as I need scarcely say, it is not angels (presumably sinless and spiritual beings, πνεύματα, Hebrews 1:14) He is taking in hand, but He is taking in hand Abraham’s seed (the dying children of a dead father; ‘also dergleichen sterbliche und durch Todesfurcht in Knechtschaft befangene Wesen,’ Bleek). δήπου: frequently in classics, as Plato, Protagoras, 309 C. οὐ γὰρ δήπου ἐνέτυχες, “for I may take it for granted you have not met” (Apol., 21 B). τί ποτε λέγει ὁ θεός … φάσκων ἐμὲ σοφώτατον εἶναι; οὐ γὰρ δήπου ψεύδεταί γε, “for, at any rate, as need hardly be said, he is not saying what is untrue”. ἐπιλαμβάνεται: “lays hold to help” or simply “succours,” with the idea of taking a person up to see him through. Cf. Sir 4:11. ἡ σοφία … ἐπιλαμβάνεται τῶν ζητούντων αὐτήν, and the Scholiast on Aesch., Pers., 742, ὅταν σπεύδῃ τις εἰς καλὰ ἢ εἰς κακά, ὁ θεὸς αὐτοῦ ἐπιλαμβάνεται. Castellio was the first to propose the meaning “help” in place of “assume the nature of,” and Beza having urged the latter rendering as being that of the Greek fathers, goes on to say, “quo magis est execranda Castellionis audacia qui ἐπιλαμ. convertit ‘opitulatur,’ non modo falsa, sed etiam inepta interpretatione, etc.”. It has been suggested that θάνατος might be the nominative which would give quite a good sense, but as Christ is the subject both of the foregoing and of the succeeding clause it is more likely that this affirmation also is made of Him. It is certainly remarkable that instead of saying “He lays hold of man to help him,” the writer should give the restricted σπέρματος Ἀβ. Von Soden, who supposes the Epistle is addressed to Gentiles, thinks the writer intends to prepare the way for his introducing the priesthood of Christ, and to exhibit the claim of Christians to the fulfilment of the prophecies made to Abraham (cf. Robertson Smith), but this Weiss brands as “eine leere Ausflucht”. Perhaps we cannot get further than Estius (cited by Bleek): “gentium vocationem tota hac epistola prudenter dissimulat, sive quod illius mentio Hebraeis parum grata esset, sive quod instituto suo non necessaria”. Or, as Bleek says. “es erklârt sich aus dem Zwecke des Briefes”.
And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.
Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.Hebrews 2:17. ὅθεν [six times in this Epistle; not used by Paul, but cf. Acts 26:19] ‘wherefore,’ because He makes the seed of Abraham the object of His saving work, ὤφειλεν, “He was under obligation”. ὀφείλω is “used of a necessity imposed either by law and duty, or by reason, or by the times, or by the nature of the matter under consideration” (Thayer). Here it was the nature of the case which imposed the obligation κατὰ πάντα τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς ὁμοιωθῆναι “to be made like His brothers in all respects,” and therefore, as Chrysostom says, ἐτέχθη, ἐτράφη, ηὐξήθη, ἔπαθε πάντα ἅπερ ἐχρῆν, τέλος ἀπέθανη. He must be a real man, and not merely have the appearance of one. He must enter into the necessary human experiences, look at things from the human point of view, take His place in the crowd amidst the ordinary elements of life. ἵνα introduces one purpose which this thorough incarnation was to serve. It would put Christ in a position to sympathise with the tempted and thus incline Him to make propitiation for the sins of the people. [τοῦ λαοῦ, also a restricted Jewish designation.] The High-Priesthood is here first mentioned, and it is mentioned as an office with which the readers were familiar. The writer does not now enlarge upon the office or work of the Priest, but merely points to one radical necessity imposed by priesthood, “making propitiation for the sins of the people”; and he affirms that in order to do this (εἰς τὸ) he must be merciful and faithful. ἐλεήμων as well as πιστὸς is naturally construed with ἀρχιερεὺς, and has its root in Exodus 22:27, ἐλεήμων γάρ εἰμι, the priest must represent the Divine mercy; he must also be πιστὸς, primarily to God, as in Hebrews 3:2, but thereby faithful to men and to be trusted by them in the region in which he exercises his function, τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν, the whole Godward relations of men. The expression is directly connected with ἀρχιερεὺς, by implication with πιστὸς, and it is found in Exodus 18:19, γίνου σὺ τῷ λαῷ τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν. For neat analogies cf. Wetstein. εἰς τὸ ἱλάσκεσθαι, “for the purpose of making propitiation,” εἰς indicating the special purpose to be served by Christ’s becoming Priest. ἱλάσκομαι (ἱλάσκω is not met with), from ἵλαος, Attic ἵλεως “propitious,” “merciful,” means “I render propitious to myself”. In the classics it is followed by the accusative of the person propitiated, sometimes of the anger felt. In the LXX it occurs twelve times, thrice as the translation of כִּפֵּר. The only instance in which it is followed by an accusative of the sin, as here, is Psalms 64 (65):3, τὰς ἀσεβείας ἡμῶν σὺ ἱλάσῃ. In the N.T., besides the present passage, it only occurs in Luke 18:13, in the passive form ἱλάσθητί μοι τῷ ἁμαρτωλῷ, cf. 2 Kings 5:18. The compound form ἐξιλάσκομαι, although it does not occur in N.T., is more frequently used in the LXX than the simple verb, and from its construction something may be learnt. As in profane Greek, it is followed by an accusative of the person propitiated, as in Genesis 32:20, where Jacob says of Esau ἐξιλάσομαι τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ἐν τοῖς δώροις κ.τ.λ.; Zechariah 7:2, ἐξιλάσασθαι τὸν Κύριον, and Zechariah 8:22, τὸ πρόσωπον Κυρίου, also Matthew 1:9. It is however also followed by an accusative of the thing on account of which propitiation is needed or which requires by some rite or process to be rendered acceptable to God, as in Sir 3:3; Sir 3:30; Sir 5:6; Sir 20:28, etc., where it is followed by ἀδικίαν, and ἁμαρτίας; and in Leviticus 16:16; Leviticus 16:20; Leviticus 16:33, where it is followed by τὸ ἅγιον, τὸ θυσιαστήριον, and in Ezekiel 45:20 by τὸν οἶκον. At least thirty-two times in Leviticus alone it is followed by περί, defining the persons for whom propitiation is made, περὶ αὐτοῦ ἐξιλάσεται ὁ ἱερεύς or περὶ πάσης συναγωγῆς, or περὶ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὑμῶν. In this usage there is apparent a transition from the idea of propitiating God (which still survives in the passive ἱλάσθητι) to the idea of exerting some influence on that which was offensive to God and which must be removed or cleansed in order to complete entrance into His favour. In the present passage it is τὰς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ λαοῦ which stand in the way of the full expression of God’s favour, and upon those therefore the propitiatory influence of Christ is to be exerted. In what manner precisely this is to be accomplished is not yet said. “The present infinitive ἱλάσκεσθαι must be noticed. The one (eternal) act of Christ (c. x. 12–14) is here regarded in its continuous present application to men (cf. c. Hebrews 2:1-2),” Westcott. (See further on ἱλάσκεσθαι in Blass, Gram., p. 88; Deissmann’s Neue Bibelstud., p. 52; and Westcott’s Epistle of St. John, pp. 83–85.) τοῦ λαοῦ the historical people of God, Abraham’s seed; cf. Matthew 1:21; Hebrews 4:9; Hebrews 13:12.
For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.Hebrews 2:18. ἐν ᾧ γὰρ πέπονθεν.… He concludes this part of his argument by explaining the process by which Christ’s becoming man has answered the purpose of making Him a merciful and faithful High Priest. The explanation is “non ignara mali miseris succurrere disco”. ἐν ᾧ is by some interpreters resolved into ἐν τούτῳ ὅτι = whereas; by others into ἐν τούτῳ ὅ = wherein; the second construction has certainly the ampler warrant, see 1 Peter 2:12; Galatians 1:8; Romans 14:22; but the former gives the better sense. It is also contested whether the words mean, that Christ suffered by being tempted, or that He was tempted by His sufferings. Both statements of course are true; but it is not easy to determine which is here intended. Are the temptations the cause of the sufferings, or the sufferings the cause of the temptations? The A.V. and the R.V., also Westcott and others, prefer the former; and from the relation of the participial πειρασθείς to the main verb πέπονθεν, which naturally indicates the suffering as the result of the temptation, this would seem to be the correct interpretation. Bleek, Delitzsch, Alford and Davidson, however, prefer the other sense, Alford translating: “For He Himself, having been tempted, in that which He hath suffered, He is able to succour them that are (now) tempted”. Davidson says: “These sufferings at every point crossed the innocent human instinct to evade them; but being laid on Him by the will of God and in pursuance of His high vocation, they thus became temptations”. Dr. Bruce says: “Christ, having experienced temptation to be unfaithful to His vocation in connection with the sufferings arising out of it, is able to succour those who, like the Hebrew Christians, were tempted in similar ways to be unfaithful to their Christian calling”. The interpretation has much to recommend it, but as it limits the temptations of Christ to those which arose out of His sufferings, it seems scarcely to fall in so thoroughly with the course of thought, especially with Hebrews 2:17. δύναται, cf. Hebrews 4:15, Hebrews 5:2.